CAMPFIRE

by Luke Otley

We were sat ’round what seemed to me a pirate’s skirmish,
the booming cannon balls of hot ash popped
in our sea shell ears; my nose an unnatural red,
my glass filled, maroon and still.

He was without hooked hand, early sixties
but didn’t remind me of my dad; I wish he had.
No, he reminded me of the father’s day card I said I’d sent
which sits still in my glove box, stamp-less, like an amputee.

She, however, throat open in laughter did remind me of my mother;
her teeth orange by the light with a darkened root,
they had that look not exactly of decay but
they sat not tightly snug together, like acquaintances in family photographs.

Teeth that hailed from a time when you had the right to fear
the dentist, and everyone knew that cotton candy,
sweets and toffee were fine and dandy; teeth strained through coffee,
teeth stained with life.

I had a blister on my thumb that was rising tentatively,
like the first finger of a shy child who knows the answer
The pin of my wind-up scoffed: danced slippery
as buttered kipper, pain throbbed up a thick sludge of vein.
Defeated, I drank, waiting for time to stop.